Effects of Drinking and Driving: A New Mexico Tragedy
n January 25, 2002 , a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) employee by the name of Lloyd Larson drove the wrong way on Interstate 40 near Albuquerque. He was drunk, and apparently unaware of where he was heading or the effects of drinking and driving.
A police officer tried desperately to get his attention before the inevitable occurred. Mr. Larson never saw the officer and was unfazed by the onslaught of vehicles whizzing by.
The police officer watched helplessly as Mr. Larson collided head-on with a car as each was traveling at more than 70 miles per hour. Mr. Larson survived the accident. The four occupants in the other car did not. Friends Edward and Alice Ramaekers and Larry and Rita Beller were killed instantly when they changed lanes to pass an eighteen wheeler. Now Mr. Larson is painfully aware of the effects of drinking and driving.
Mr. Larson has a history of arrests for drunken driving, but each time was able to beat the system and get behind the wheel again. Part of the problem stems from the lack of communication between the BIA and the state of New Mexico regarding arrests and convictions.
The Ramaekers family has agreed to a $2 million-dollar settlement with the government. Edward and Alice 's son Terry Pfeifer said that although the government's heavy hand was felt through the settlement process, his family accomplished its goal of changing the BIA's employee policy. The BIA changed its policy to require annual driver's license checks and driving records reviews.
While it is unlikely that Mr. Larson will get behind the wheel again anytime soon, one has to wonder what the result would have been if a breath alcohol tester was available to him before he hopped into his truck that fatal afternoon.
Will alcohol breath testers in bars stop all drunk driving? Of course not. But the effects of drinking and driving are many, and the machines do save lives.
Two million dollars would buy a large number of Alcohol Alert breathalyzer machines.